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Pac-12 updates tiebreaker, game cancellation policy for 2020

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The football season may look a bit different, in many ways during the 2020 season

USC v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Pac-12 conference has officially updated their policies ahead of the 2020 football season, shortened to seven games due to the coronavirus pandemic. The release, said to be in coordination with the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiatives (SAHWBI) as well with the Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee set in place from the SAHWBI and other Pac-12 medical experts, new standards and considerations are in place to play the 2020 season.

The conference states in addition to the minimum standards, all local health guidelines still apply.

Regarding game cancellation policy:

The Pac-12 has established minimum thresholds to play a football game of at least 53 scholarship players available to participate and the following minimum number of position scholarship players available to begin a game: seven (7) offensive linemen, one (1) quarterback and four (4) defensive linemen. Each institution shall provide a complete roster by position to the Conference office prior to the season. The impacted institution has the option to play the game with fewer than the 53 scholarship players or fewer than the minimum number of position players listed above if it elects to do so. Otherwise, upon approval by the Commissioner, the game would be rescheduled or declared a no contest.

In addition, a game should be rescheduled or declared a no contest in the event of the following COVID-19 related impacts:

Inability to isolate new positive cases within a team or athletic department or to quarantine high-risk contacts.

Unavailability or inability to perform testing as provided by the Pac-12 medical guidelines.

Campus-wide or local community transmission rates that are considered unsafe by local public health officials.

Inability to perform adequate contact tracing consistent with governmental requirements.

Local public health officials of the home team state that there is an inability for the hospital infrastructure to accommodate a surge.

On tiebreakers:

Tiebreak Procedures To Determine Division Champions (Unbalanced Conference Schedule)

In order for teams to be considered in a divisional tiebreak scenario, teams must play no less than one fewer conference game than the average number of conference games played by all conference teams (rounded up/down at .50). For example, if the average number of conference games played in the 2020 season is 5.25 (value of 5 when rounded down), a team would be eligible to win their Division if that team played 4 conference games.

The winner of each Division will be determined by the best winning percentage (both divisional and cross-divisional) within the conference. In the event of an unbalanced schedule where there is a tie for the best record in the loss column, head-to-head results will take precedence over winning percentage.

In determining the divisional champions, the following will apply: If any team(s) has not played six (6) Conference games (due to not being able to reschedule a postponed Conference game) and any team(s) is within one Conference win from the team(s) with the highest conference winning percentage AND has an equal number of losses, those teams shall be declared tied.

On specific amount-of-team tiebreaking scenarios:

Two-Team Tie

Head-to-head results

Record in games played within the division

Record against the next highest placed team in the division (based on record in all games played within the Conference), proceeding through the division

Record in common Conference games

Team with the highest College Football Playoff (CFP) ranking

Cumulative winning percentage of each tied team’s Conference opponents

Highest ranking by SportSource Analytics (Team Rating Score metric) following the last weekend of regular-season games

Coin toss

Multiple-Team Ties

The following procedures will only be used to eliminate all but two teams, at which point the two- team tiebreaking procedure will be applied:

Head-to-head (best record in games among the tied teams)

Record in games played within the division

Record against the next highest placed team in the division (based on record in all games played within the Conference), proceeding through the division

Record in common Conference games

Team with the highest College Football Playoff (CFP) ranking

Cumulative winning percentage of each tied team’s Conference opponents

Highest ranking by SportSource Analytics following the last weekend of regular-season games

On the determination of who hosts the Pac-12 Championship game:

The home team in the Pac-12 Championship Game will be determined by the record in all Conference games. In the event of a tie, the following procedures will be applied to determine the home team:

Head-to-head competition, if applicable

Record against the next highest-placed common opponent in the Conference (based on recording all games played within the Conference) proceeding through the Conference

Record in common Conference games

Team with the highest College Football Playoff (CFP) ranking

Highest ranking by SportSource Analytics following the last weekend of regular-season games

Coin toss

The Pac-12 Championship protocol if game numbers dip to just four contests or below:

In the event that the average number of conference games falls to 4 or below, the two teams with the best winning percentage (both divisional and cross-divisional) within the conference will participate in the Pac- 12 Football Championship Game (regardless of division affiliation). In order for teams to be considered in a tie-break scenario, teams must play no less than one fewer conference game than the average number of conference games played by all conference teams (rounded up/down at .50). For example, if the average number of conference games played in the 2020 season is 4.25 (value of 4 when rounded down) a team would be eligible to participate in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game if that team played 3 conference games.

Under this scenario, the participants in Pac-12 Football Championship Game will be determined by the best winning percentage within the conference. In the event of an unbalanced schedule where there is a tie for the best record in the loss column, head-to-head results will take precedence over winning percentage.

If the teams remain tied, the following procedures will be applied to determine the Pac-12 Championship Game representatives:

Two-Team Tie

Head-to-head

Record in common Conference games

Team with the highest College Football Playoff (CFP) ranking

Cumulative winning percentage of each tied team’s Conference opponents

Highest ranking by SportSource Analytics (Team Rating Score metric) following the last weekend of regular-season games

Coin toss

Multiple-Team Ties

The following procedures will only be used to eliminate all but two teams, at which point the two- team tiebreaking procedure will be applied:

Head-to-head (best record in games among the tied teams)

Record in common Conference games

Team with the highest College Football Playoff (CFP) ranking

Cumulative winning percentage of each tied team’s conference opponents

Highest ranking by SportSource Analytics following the last weekend of regular-season games

Coin toss

The Pac-12 is seemingly doing it right, and by not rushing back into this decision, they’re setting up their teams for the most success possible in such strange times. We’ve seen multiple other conferences have to postpone games, move their championship games, etc. — and this sets up like the Pac-12 has thought of those contingency plans already.

Have to say, I’m surprised. But I like it.